Mini Music Review: Scream – Michael Jackson

Release Year: 2017

Rating: 6/10

Scream is the most ridiculous posthumous release from the Michael Jackson estate. The compilation collects what the Jackson estate calls Jackson’s “most electrifying and danceable tracks.” In other words, it’s a bunch of songs you already own. It seems they wanted to theme the release around Halloween and his “spooky” songs, which explains why Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” and The Jackson’s “Torture” is featured. Though it doesn’t justify why “Dirty Diana,” “Xscape,” and “Leave Me Alone” are included.

While the music is good, obviously, the release is just pointless. The only “new” track is the “Blood On the Dancefloor x Dangerous” remix by The White Panda. And it’s pretty shitty. The estate is clearly scraping the bottom of the barrel with this one. Not that the other posthumous releases were great, but at least they gave us something new. Here, they’re repacking songs you already own under a loose theme.

If you’re a new fan it may be something to grab, but if you own all of Jackson’s records or any other greatest hits LP, then there’s no need to buy Scream. It’s a sad cash grab to sucker more money out of fans. They’re most likely banking on orders of the vinyl edition, which boasts a glow-in-the-dark disc. It won’t be long before this release finds its way to the bargain along with 2009’s Michael.


Top 10 Videos that Scared Me as a Kid

Image result for thriller michael jackson yellow eyes

Let’s face it, as a kid the silliest things can scare us. Anything from trees to weird looking food could scare our pants off. Like most kids of the 90s, I watched a lot of television. There was a point where I ventured away from Nickelodeon to MTV. Most of the videos had no effect on me. Some of them I even liked (“Smells Like Teen Spirit”), but then there were the “scary” ones. Videos I had no business watching, yet kept my eyes glues to the screen until it scared me. Looking back at these ten clips now, none of them are scary in the least, not even disturbing. Then again, I was only a dumb kid then. So let’s take a look at the top ten videos that scared my pants off as a kid.

10. “Nothing Compares 2 U” – Sinead O’Connor

There’s a subtle beauty to this video that makes it timeless. The concept is simple: O’Connor lets her haunting vocals carry the video mixed with gothic imagery of her walking through a cemetery. Pretty tame. But the one part that I still remember freaking me out comes at the very end. It’s a brief flash of what looks like a skeleton. Looking at it now, I think it’s an intricate headstone, but the face still looks like a skull. Being so young and not able to grasp the thought of death, this scene horrified me. Keep in mind, at the same time I thought the Crypt Keeper was pretty cool. Yeah, I was a weird kid. Now, I wouldn’t call the image scary at all. It just has a morbid beauty to it I can fully appreciate.

9. “Role Model” – Eminem

Similar to the “My Name Is” video, this one is a barrage of various images and situations featuring the rapper meant to shock viewers. Nothing about this video is scary or even disturbing in the least aside from how much of the song is missing when watching the clean version. So why did I cringe when I watched it as a kid? The damn ending where Eminem, after attempting a Houdini-like escape attempt, fails. The video ends with his lifeless body swinging in the water as the crowd looks on in disgust. This mixed with the sepia silent movie effects (some of those still creep me out) was enough to make me skip this video. I can’t really explain it. I just remember hating this part of the video whenever I saw it and I did my best to change the channel before it ended.

8. “Nookie” – Limp Bizkit

I didn’t really know what to think of Limp Bizkit when they invaded my daily TRL watching in the late 90s. I remember thinking how dumb this song was and wondering what the fuck cookies had to do with the nookie anyway. But the one thing I will always take away from this Limp Bizkit song is the video. The majority of the clip is pretty tame and predictable. It’s Wes Borland that freaked me out. When he cocked his head to the side and stared into the camera with those soulless eyes, I shivered. I’ve never seen someone with pure black eyes and no pupils. Of course, now I know it was just contact lenses. Still, it shook me enough to where I closed my eyes whenever the video came on. Why didn’t I just change? Well, I didn’t want to miss my daily dose of Nsync and BSB.

7. “Waterfalls” – TLC

I was a huge fan of TLC when I was younger and seeing as this was one of the best videos of the 90s, it was always on MTV. Sure, some of the graphics are outdated now, but it’s still an iconic clip. Yet, I hated watching it. Why? Because of how fucking depressing it is. First, we see a young boy killed in blood and his mother a ghostly figure crying over him. Then, we see a man fade from existence through an unknown case of AIDS. By the end of the video the boy tries to reunite with his mother and the woman who infected her lover, is gone as well. I get it, the video is supposed to leave impact with its message. But I was five at the time. And yeah, I probably shouldn’t have watched it. But those two scenes scared me even if I didn’t fully understand what they meant. Sometimes TLC were a little too good at getting their messages across as this isn’t the last time they spooked me out.

6. “The Way I Am” – Eminem

I probably shouldn’t have been listening to or watching Eminem at 12 years old, but I did and yes, my mom thought it was fine. Very little about this video is scary; it’s kind of disturbing, but there’s nothing outright horrifying about it. I remember actually enjoying it and being confused by Marilyn Manson in the background. Was it really him or not? After all, Em did previously portray the rocker in “My Name Is.” The thing that freaked me out was the end when the rapper is about to make contact with the concrete. It was at that second that I realized what he was doing. I flinched and closed my eyes not wanting to see the awful splatter. And the ground turns to rubber. Eminem is okay. I let out a sigh of relief. The fact that two Eminem videos scared when I was young was probably a punishment for listening to his music in the first place.

5. “Gimme Some More” – Busta Rhymes

The weird thing about this video is at the time I only saw about five seconds of it. It was some sort of countdown on MTV or maybe it was the VMAs, doing a recap of videos. It flashed to a clip of this song where it focused on the blue, yellowed eyed creature that terrifies the woman in the video. It’s actually not a surprise this one scared me as a kid; the monster is still freaky looking today. Still, it’s something I’ll always remember as shaking me to my core. From then on I associated Busta Rhymes with scary videos. Now….not so much.

4. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson

This video has scared all of us at some point in our lives. Though it’s a timeless clip and still outstanding by today’s standards, it’s not exactly scary. I wasn’t even that afraid of it when I first saw it at 5 years old. Despite this, there were still bits that creeped me out. One thing that always unnerved me was the heavy breathing during the title card. I always found it weird and knew it signaled bad things to come. The part where Jackson transforms into the werecat looks a bit dated, especially the parts featuring a static dummy head. But the part that always made me jump was him screaming “Go away!” with the sharp teeth sticking out of his mouth. Though I always expect it now, when I was little I somehow forgot it was coming and it always scared me. The zombies for the most part I thought were cool, except for two specific ones. First, the one that comes strolling out of mausoleum door, whites of his eyes showing. Then the one with blood spilling of its mouth. Both of these zombies freaked me out. And the way the latter one smiles after the blood spills, just makes it all the more creepy. It still freaks me out a bit now.

3. “Unpretty” – TLC

Similar to “Waterfalls,” TLC aims to promote a positive message of loving yourself and not letting anyone else make you feel ugly. Sounds good, so what about the video is terrifying? The part where a woman gets her silicone implants removed. When I first saw the doctor remove the silicone and the pained expression of the girl, it gave me chills. Every other time I saw the video I shut my eyes right as Chili steps into the hospital. TLC spares no one and shows the painful removal up close trying to teach young girls a lesson. And at least for me, it fucking worked. Even watching it now after not seeing the video in years it made me cringe. I forgot how graphic the scene was and it’s disturbing as hell. I never thought a TLC video would leave me scarred for life.

2. “Tourniquet” – Marilyn Manson

As much as I love Marilyn Manson now, I thought he was the creepiest dude when I was ten. I still remember finding my brother’s copy of Mechanical Animals and being utterly confused by the cover. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I accidentally saw this video while watching Celebrity Deathmatch. After Manson won against Charles Manson, they decided to show this clip. And man did it give me nightmares. Though it’s now one of my favorite videos, I still don’t know what the hell is going on. Manson’s movements along with black eyed semi-human/semi-mannequin creatures scared the piss out of me. But it still intrigued me; I’d never seen anything like it before. When I saw the video again, I watched while covering my eyes and peeking out every now and then. Years later, I turned into a dedicated fan. Gotta admit I didn’t see that one coming.

1. “Oh Father” – Madonna

I’ve talked about how accidentally terrifying this video is in the past, so I’ll be brief about it here. I saw this video at a very young age and when it reached the part where the little girl, who is supposed to be Madonna, reaches her mother in the casket terrified me. Not because she was dead, but because of the fucking close up of her lips sewn shut. It’s not grotesque and it doesn’t even stay on the screen that long. But it was enough to disturb me and haunt me ever since. Because of that scene, I rarely revisit the video. It still gives me the chills today. The rest of the video is beautiful and timeless. Yet, that one scene has stayed with me for years. For that reason along it gets the top spot.

Did any of these videos scare you as a kid? What videos gave you chills? Let me know in the comments!

Thriller- A Metal Tribute to Michael Jackson

618WNhEUk6L._SY300_Release Year:   2013

Rating: 6.5/10

In recent years, metal artists have revealed their love for the King of Pop. Just one quick Youtube search will pull up tons of metal MJ covers both good and bad. Last month, several metal musicians from bands like Asking Alexandria, Iron Maiden, Living Colour, and Motorhead gathered together and covered some of Jackson’s popular songs. While the idea is great, the final product falls flat. A lot of the songs are bland or don’t stray far from the original. The album comes off as dull overall.

Things start off okay with a cover of “Thriller” by Chuck Billy of Testament. The guitar riff sounds amazing and manages to be a metal version of the original beat. The vocals are what make this cover weird. For some reason they sound kind of cheesy and for the most part they don’t stray from the original. This version even tries to do the classic creepy laugh at the end, but it’s nowhere as creepy as the Price version. The cover of “Man In the Mirror” by Danny Worsnop (Asking Alexandria) and Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) is kind of odd. The intro riff doesn’t sound like the track. You can only hear some similarities if you really focus on the music. The vocals aren’t terrible, but again they seem to want to honor the original version. It would’ve been great to hear some intense vocals on this track, especially since it’s not a song that’s covered much.

This pattern is found throughout the album. “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Shake Your Body Down,” and “Dirty Diana” all sound similar to Jackson’s versions with minor tweaks in the vocals and music. They’re okay for the most part, but really easy to ignore. The “Beat It” cover starts off well with the opening bars recreated with electric guitars, but the vocals provided by Priya Panda are really weak. If she had some really powerful vocals the entire song would’ve been better. “Rock With You” has a weird sounding guitar riff that doesn’t bear any resemblance to the original music. What’s even worse is that the singer Doug Pinnick sounds like Ozzy Osbourne with a cold. The “Black or White” cover is decent enough. The riff is nowhere as awesome as Slash’s, but at least they tried to make it their own. What is cool are the harmonizing vocals that randomly come in.

The best cover on the record is Billie Jean by Corey Glover (Living Colour) and Phil Campbell (Motorhead). The low key opening beat is recreated by a bass, while the main melody is provided via electric guitar. It sounds amazing and thanks to the musical change manages to stand out from the other tracks on the album. Also, the vocals sound really good. Glover is a talented singer and does a great job with the song. “Never Can Say Goodbye” is odd choice for a cover, but Icarus Witch does a pretty good job making it different. They keep the vibe and tone of the original; the only thing they change are the addition of electric guitars. It’s as if they mixed the old with the new and it works well.

For some reason, Alien Ant Farm felt it was necessary to re-record and release their cover of “Smooth Criminal.” While their version is awesome, it was pointless to re-record it, especially because it doesn’t sound as good the second time around. Also, why couldn’t they record another Jackson song? I felt they did a really good job with his song that they could easily do something like “Speed Demon” or “Another Part of Me” and it would sound just as great. Another gripe I have with the record is these aren’t metal covers at all. Most of these acts don’t take the songs and make them their own. Rather, they’re trying to hard to recreate Jackson’s work. They either stick too much to the original or make the song boring.

Overall, the album gets 6.5/10. While the thought behind the release is nice, the execution is sub-par. Some of the song choices are weird and most of the covers are bland and boring. There are a few that stand out, but I’ve heard better Jackson covers just doing a random Youtube search. Maybe if the artists weren’t so busy trying to stick with the original or if they would’ve spent more time on the album it would’ve fared better. But if you were thinking of adding this to your collection, steer clear and wait for a proper metal tribute to the King of Pop. If anything, the record shows that Jackson’s music crosses all boundaries.

HIStory- Michael Jackson

MJ-HIStoryRelease Year: 1995

Rating: 8/10

This is one of the more interesting and in some terms controversial releases in Jackson’s catalog. It’s a greatest hits album and a studio album mixed into one. Some people loved it while others hated. One has to question whether or not it received so much hate because of the allegations that he was facing at the time. Either way, it’s still a great release. Where else can you get the best of Michael Jackson along with some new material? Granted, what we find on the second disc is not his best work, but it’s still intriguing and good.

This review will mainly focus on Disc 2 (HIStory Continues) with all the new songs, rather than the first disc. Regarding the first disc, it’s the best of Jackson all the way. It has songs from all of his studio releases at that point in time, so you can’t really go wrong. With songs like “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” “Bad,” and “Remember the Time” it’s sure to be the most played disc in your collection. The track list is pretty solid, though there are other great songs like “Smooth Criminal” and “Leave Me Alone” that aren’t included here. There are also some songs that should’ve been left out, such as “The Girl is Mine” and “Heal the World.” They’re both good songs, but I wouldn’t count them among his best work. Besides, most of the songs here are fun; I wouldn’t consider these two songs fun.

History Continues has some really great tracks that fans have grown to know and love over the years. It begins with “Scream,” which has still got to be one of the best duets ever. Not only is the song catchy as hell and features baby sister Janet sticking up for her big brother, the song introduces the themes found on the record. Here we find an angry, irritated Michael Jackson, who is tired of being pushed around and slandered in the media. You can hear his anger not just in vocals, but in the music as well, especially during the bridge when the hardcore rock guitar comes in and tears it up. The aggression continues with the track “They Don’t Really Care About Us.”

This has got to be one of his most forward and outspoken songs. Everything about the song is pure anger from the vocals, to the lyrics, to the booming music that makes you want to gather up people for a rally. Of course the song deals with racism in our society, but it also touches on what Jackson was going through since the early 90’s with the allegations of child abuse. When he says “I am the victim of police brutality, now/I’m tired of bein’ the victim of hate/You’re rapin’ me off my pride/Oh, for God’s sake” it seems like he’s referencing when he was dealing with the police during the initial trials. But the song can also reference all the hate and violence that goes on in the world. It’s a powerful song that is still relevant to this day. Plus, when those pounding drums start, it really gets your heart racing, which is pretty appropriate for a song like this.

It’s after this song that the theme of the album becomes apparent. Most of the tracks deal with the anger, hurt, sadness, and loneliness Jackson was dealing with due to the child abuse accusations. It’s as if he had all these emotions bottled up and this was his chance to let them all out. He attacks the media, people who have used him, even the police in some instances. Because of this the album is pretty dark and really sad at times. This isn’t the fun Jackson who just wanted to dance and make people smile from the 80’s. Here, he’s been through the most horrible experience of his life and it was costing him his career. And as a fan you had no idea what he was going through, until you listen to this record.

Themes of isolation and loneliness can be found on “Stranger in Moscow.” This has always been one of my favorite Jackson songs because it’s tragically beautiful. The music is soft and sweet and Michael sounds really vulnerable as he sings. But it’s a really sad song about his loneliness from what he was going through. The line “Swift and sudden fall from grace” breaks your heart because ultimately that’s what happened and he knew it was going on. “Childhood” is a tearjerker, especially now that’ he’s gone. It’s about how no one understands him; people think he’s weird just because he’s trying to make up for the childhood he never had. It’s like he was pleading for people to understand who he was and why he was acting the way he did, yet no one listened. Granted, it’s not his strongest song, but it is one of his more emotional. I can’t even listen to it now without crying.

The anger and paranoia comes out on tracks like “D.S.,” “Money,” and “Tabloid Junkie.” The first song is the most interesting because it is believed that it is a direct attack on Santa Barbara Country attorney Tom Sneddon, who controlled the child abuse investigation and called for Jackson to be stripped searched. Technically, Michael says “Dom Sheldon is a cold man” during the chorus, but it sounds an awful lot like Sneddon’s name. One song where Jackson sounds cold and spiteful is “Money.” Even though the slinky, smooth R&B rhythm gets you moving, the track is all about people who used him for money and the nasty things people do in the name of greed. What’s most interesting about the song is that Michael’s voice is deeper here. You almost think it’s not him, but it seems like he took on this tone to express his frustration.

The album is pretty strong until we get to the last three songs. “History,” “Little Susie,” and “Smile” just don’t fit anywhere on this album. They’re more like album filler than anything else. “History” doesn’t even feel like a song. It’s mostly filled with audio samples from American history with Jackson singing occasionally. While the verses are pretty catchy, the chorus doesn’t pack a punch and becomes dull after that. “Little Susie” sounds like something out of Les Miserable. It has big, sweeping dramatic music, while Jackson sings about a little girl who has died. Yeah, I don’t get it either. Finally, “Smile” is actually a cover of a song by Charlie Chaplin, who Jackson admired. And while it’s not bad, the sudden optimism of the track really throws the record off. It has a nice message, but it doesn’t fit on the album. It would’ve been better off as a b-side.

Overall, the release gets 8/10. No one can resist the greatest Michael Jackson songs on one disc and that’s probably the biggest selling point of the album, especially since at that time he didn’t have a compilation like that. But the second disc of new material has some great stuff. Not all the songs stand out, but there are others here that are now considered classics. Also, it’s interesting to hear an angrier Jackson. It’s also really sad to hear how much the trials and all the stuff he went through in the early 90’s affected him.  Either way, it’s a great release that every Jackson fan needs in their collection.

Top 10 Michael Jackson Videos

This past Monday marked the death of Michael Jackson. Though the music world has been without the King of Pop for three years, his great music is still with us. Aside from making some wonderful music, he also made some of the most memorable music videos ever. He has so many that it’s kind of hard to choose only ten to talk about, but these are the ones that stand out from his long list of “short films.”

  1. Dirty Diana

This may not be MJ’s most fantastic or story filled video, but the thing that gets it on this list is the performance. This is when Jackson was on top of his game in the 80’s. All the passion from Michael’s singing and dancing all comes through in this clip. He’s just obviously into his performance. Also, the sweet ass guitar solo from Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens is a big bonus. It also helps that MJ looks his best here.

  1. Scream

This is still the most expensive video in the world, so it should be one of Jackson’s best. The futuristic setting, the cute sibling rivalry, and of course the stellar dance moves all make this a memorable video. It took so long for this duet to happen, but it was well worth the wait. Janet comes to her big brother’s defense in this video and it’s pretty clear that this is a big fuck off to the media who bashed MJ so hard. Also, who doesn’t love the part where Michael walks up the wall?

  1. Black or White

This video is mostly known for the ending where Jackson smashes windows out of cars, continually grabs his crotch, and turns into a panther. But the video should be memorable for it’s amazing face morphing technique just before the end of the song. There was nothing like it in 1991 and years later it still looks amazing. This video shows that Jackson was truly an innovator and was always on the lookout to make his videos bigger and better.

  1. Remember the Time

This “short film” is full of stars, such as Eddie Murphy and Iman, but the beautiful costumes, setting, and choreography make this a timeless clip. It even has some humor at the beginning of the video, when the queen orders her servants to behead the fire-breather. I’m still not sure how or why Michael Jackson appears from gold dust, but every time he comes up and brushes off his shoulders it sends a chill down your spine.

  1. Billie Jean/ Beat It


These videos go together because they are so groundbreaking for music and the music video itself. “Billie Jean” was the first video by a black artist to gain constant rotation on MTV. It also showed people what could be done with this new found format. His videos may have gotten bigger and better later on in his career, but something so simple as the lit sidewalk stays with viewers today. “Beat It” shows Michael’s ability to tell a story within a four minute clip. Not only is Jackson’s signature dancing featured here, he also inadvertently spawned a new look for the 80’s.

  1. Leave Me Alone

I think this is an underrated video. It shows the colorful and imaginative world of Michael Jackson. It also references and pokes fun of several rumors that started around this time, including plastic surgery, buying the elephant man’s bones, and sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber. There’s also a shrine to Elizabeth Taylor featured in the video. Again, there are some stunning visuals here and though they may seem a little dated today. It mostly features stop animation and claymation. It’s a fun video to watch. Am I the only one who got freaked out by the chomping set of teeth?

  1. Speed Demon

This is another video that doesn’t seem to get much love. It wasn’t shown on TV much, but it is featured in the film Moonwalker. This is another really fun video that’s all in claymation. Jackson changes from a bunny to Tina Tuner to Pee-wee Herman. At the end, he has a dance off with his new found bunny friend, before he gets in trouble for dancing by the cops. It is a bizarre video (why is he turning into all these people?) but it’s so damn fun and awesome. Definitely, a video you won’t forget once you see it.

  1. Bad

I don’t know how dancing your ass off and singing about how bad you know will get a bunch of thugs off of your back, but MJ manages to do it in this video. This is another video that tells a story, especially if you’re watching the original 18-minute version. Again, amazing dance takes over this clip and while the video doesn’t make Jackson look threatening, it does show he can keep audiences on their toes. Also, that outfit fucking rocks. I still want that now!

  1. Smooth Criminal

This is the video that had people wondering for years how the hell Michael did that lean. The secret wasn’t revealed until after his death and it shows that he would go to great lengths to put on the best show. The gangster-themed video is so good that Jackson copied it a second time for his single “You Rock My World.” What’s interesting about the video is that a good chunk of it is an homage to a clip found in the Fred Astaire movie Band Wagon. Either way, it’s still an amazing video and we’re still wondering who Annie is and whether she’s okay.

  1. Thriller

Who didn’t see this coming? This is the greatest Michael Jackson video ever. Hell, it’s probably the best video ever. There’s still nothing like it now. This video is a movie in itself featuring thrills and chills. Who didn’t get freaked out when Michael turned around and ordered his girlfriend to go away while baring his fangs? Then, of course, there’s the epic dancing that people still like to do in flash mob form. Everything about this video makes it a classic and it still looks damn good 25 years later. It’s better than most horror movies out there today. It also shows that Jackson has the answer to the zombie apocalypse: get them to dance.

Bonus: Ghosts

It’s been called a long form music video and a short film. Personally, I consider it a short film, but either way it’s amazing. Most will be quick to compare it to “Thriller” and say it’s no good. But it’s actually amazing. The story was actually co-written by the great Stephen King. Jackson plays several characters in the movie, including the condescending mayor. At the time, it was hard to tell that it was Jackson in a fat suit because the makeup and prosthetics were so good. There are also amazing special effects here. Always the one to take advantage of new technology, there are extensive uses of CG in the film and since the form was new at the time, it just blew you away. Dancing skeletons, creepy monsters, and a disturbing scene of MJ shattering himself all lend to the innovative, entertaining and shocking film.

Is your favorite video not on the list? Share your favorite MJ videos in the comments below!